Voyager 1 Spacecraft Enters New Realm at Solar System’s Edge

This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

<img class="size-full wp-image-3505" title="This still image and set of animations show NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech ” src=”http://www.etupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Voyager-1-Spacecraft-Enters-New-Realm-at-Solar-Systems-Edge.jpg” alt=”This still image and set of animations show NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the "magnetic highway." In this region, the sun’s magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech” width=”660″ height=”425″ /> This still image and set of animations show NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft exploring a new region in our solar system called the “magnetic highway.” In this region, the sun’s magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines, allowing particles from inside the heliosphere to zip away and particles from interstellar space to zoom in. Image released Nov. 29, 012.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft has discovered a new layer of the solar system that scientists hadn’t known was there, researchers announced today (Dec. 3).

Voyager 1 and its sister probe Voyager 2 have been traveling through space since 1977, and are close to becoming the first manmade objects to leave the solar system.

Scientists haven’t been sure exactly when that exit would occur, and now say the spacecraft are likely in the outermost region of the solar system, which is defined by the extent of the heliosphere, the large bubble of charged particles the sun puffs out around itself. Voyager 1, in particular, has entered a new region of the heliosphere that scientists are calling a “magnetic highway,” which allows charged particles from inside the heliosphere to flow outward, and particles from the galaxy outside to come in.

“We do believe this may be the very last layer between us and interstellar space,” Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif., said during a teleconference with reporters. “This region was not anticipated, was not predicted.”

<img class="size-full wp-image-3506" title="This artist's concept shows how NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. This phenomenon creates a layer just inside the outer boundary of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of solar ions surrounding the sun. Image released Nov. 29, 012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech” src=”http://www.etupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Voyager-1-Spacecraft-Enters-New-Realm-at-Solar-Systems-Edge-01.jpg” alt=”This artist’s concept shows how NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. This phenomenon creates a layer just inside the outer boundary of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of solar ions surrounding the sun. Image released Nov. 29, 012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech” width=”660″ height=”495″ /> This artist’s concept shows how NASA‘s Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. This phenomenon creates a layer just inside the outer boundary of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of solar ions surrounding the sun. Image released Nov. 29, 012.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Therefore, he said, it’s hard to predict how soon Voyager will leavethe